Grilling season is here and popular grill fare often includes burgers and hot dogs. With that, the usual sides we pair them up with are chips, salads and/or french fries. But for a different spin, we’ve grown fond of tater tots. They’re not just for kids and with this Loaded Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole, everyone’s sure to love this! Crispy bites of potato are baked with a golden blanket of cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, tender chicken and topped with creamy sour cream, fresh tomato, red onions, parsley and green onions. Look out french fries and chips, make way for the tater tot comeback…
I have fallen back in love with tater tots after seeing them on restaurant menus more often lately. When I came across a delicious article on Buzzfeed, I was inspired to whip up some tater tots with my favorite baked potato toppings.
This is pretty cut and dry, but you can top your tater tots with your favorite ingredients. I stuck with the common faves such as bacon, cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, green onions, red onions and parsley. I also threw in some chopped cooked chicken for good measure…
Why Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole?
Loaded tater tot casserole is a relatively recent culinary creation. Its history can be traced back to the United States in the late 20th century. The dish typically consists of tater tots (a type of potato snack made from grated potatoes formed into small cylindrical shapes). It is arranged in a casserole dish, topped with various ingredients such as cheese, bacon, ground beef, and vegetables. Then, baked in the oven until crispy and golden.
The cultural significance of loaded tater tot casserole lies in its popularity as comfort food in the United States. It is particularly in the Midwest and Southern regions. It is often served as a hearty, satisfying meal that is easy to prepare and share with friends and family. The dish has also become a popular party food, particularly for casual gatherings and sporting events. Despite its relatively recent origins, the dish has become firmly established in American cuisine meals. Its popularity shows no signs of waning.
Key Ingredients for an All-Star Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole
A truly amazing Loaded Tater Tot Casserole isn’t just about the tots. It’s an intricate dance of ingredients coming together in harmony.
Tater Tots: The Star Ingredient
The name of the dish says it all.
Opt for golden, crispy ones that can stand up to the rich, meaty filling without turning soggy.
Meaty Fillings: Beef, Chicken or Turkey
Your choice of meat can make or break the dish.
It’s not just about salt and pepper. Think garlic, onions, and a touch of smoked paprika.
Cheesy Goodness: Picking the Best Melt
There’s no casserole without cheese, right?
Mix sharp cheddar with creamy mozzarella for a delightful experience.
Vegetables: Balancing Out the Richness
Add color and a touch of health with some veggies.
Think bell peppers, mushrooms, or even spinach.
Seasoning and Spices: Elevating Flavors
The right seasonings can elevate your casserole from good to great. Don’t skimp on this!Print
- 2 lb. bag (32 oz.) frozen tater tots
- 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
- 1 cup leftover chicken, chopped
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/2 cup tomato; diced
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced, for serving (optional)
- Thinly-sliced green onions, for serving (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Arrange the tater tots in the bottom of a 9×13-in. baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven; sprinkle half the cheese on top along with chicken and bacon. Return to oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with remaining cheese, top with sour cream, tomatoes, and red onions, Garnish with parsley and green onions.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Calories: 381 kcal
- Sugar: 4 g
- Fat: 31 g
- Saturated Fat: 17 g
- Carbohydrates: 9 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 16 g
- Cholesterol: 82 mg
Keywords: cheesy tater tot casserole
Cooking Tips For Tater Tot Casserole
Here are some general cooking tips for making a loaded tater tot casserole:
Choose the right pan
Use a baking dish or casserole that’s the appropriate size for your recipe. If the pan is too small, the ingredients will be overcrowded and won’t cook evenly. A 9×13-inch baking dish is a popular choice for a standard-sized casserole.
Preheat the oven
Make sure your oven is fully preheated before you start cooking your casserole. Preheating the oven is important because it helps to ensure that everything cooks evenly and thoroughly.
Layer your ingredients
To make sure all of the flavors meld together properly, layer your ingredients in the baking dish in a specific order. A common order is to place the tater tots on the bottom of the baking dish. It is followed by your meat, vegetables, and then cheese. This helps to ensure that the cheese gets melted evenly and that the ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the casserole.
Add your toppings last
If your casserole includes toppings like breadcrumbs or additional cheese, add them to the top of the casserole during the last few minutes of cooking. This will allow them to brown and crisp up without burning. For example, if you’re using breadcrumbs, sprinkle them over the top of the casserole during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. It will have time to turn brown and become crispy.
Keep an eye on your casserole as it cooks to make sure it doesn’t dry out or overcook. Cover it with foil if it’s getting too brown on top, and let it cook until everything is heated through. Depending on your recipe and oven, the casserole may take between 30-45 minutes to cook.
Let it rest
Once your casserole is done, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Allowing the casserole to rest for a few minutes before cutting and serving helps the flavors meld together and allows the cheese to set up. This also makes it easier to cut and serve the casserole, as it will be less likely to fall apart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time. To prepare ahead of time, assemble the casserole as you would normally, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. When you’re ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap or foil and bake the casserole as directed in your recipe. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if the casserole is cold from the fridge.
Yes, you can freeze the leftovers of this dish. To freeze, let the casserole cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. You can freeze the casserole for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, thaw the casserole in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until it’s heated through.
Yes, you can substitute ingredients in this recipe to suit your tastes or dietary needs. For example, you can use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef to reduce the fat content or use a variety of vegetables to add more nutrients. However, keep in mind that substituting ingredients may change the flavor and texture of the final dish, so be prepared to experiment and adjust as needed. Also, it’s important to be mindful of the cooking time and temperature of the dish when making substitutions to ensure the dish cooks properly.
Loaded tater tot casserole is a delicious and flavorful dish that combines crispy tater tots, savory meat, cheese, and other ingredients to create a satisfying and hearty meal. Its cultural importance lies in its status as a popular comfort food in many regions of the United States.
The dish has a relatively short history, but its popularity has only grown in recent years due to its ease of preparation and the flexibility it offers for customization. Trying this dish is an opportunity to taste classic American comfort food and put a personal spin on a beloved recipe that has become a staple in many households. Whether it’s for a family dinner or a potluck with friends, loaded tater tot casserole is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.